For whatever reason, many members of American society frown down upon those who live with disabilities. Follow around someone who lives daily life from a wheelchair, and you’ll see first-hand what they are forced to endure every day. There are few courtesies. But one thing we can do to help these individuals out is provide free legal services — especially when they don’t always have the money to pay for those services without help.
Those living with disabilities face a life of day to day ironies. For example, much of the discrimination faced by the disabled is due to the fact that some of them receive help from the government. The stigma is strong. But because of that discrimination, a disabled person might very well require legal help — that is unaffordable without help from the government or pro bono work. And so the cycle continues.
A disability discrimination lawyer must understand the need for emotional and financial support for a client who is living in a world of mistrust and anger. Providing that kind of help isn’t easy — and that’s exactly why firms should provide a helping hand free of charge. Not everyone requires pro bono help. But this demographic does!
Charter Senior Living, LLC is a family-owned establishment in Naperville, Illinois. It provides senior care in the region. A recent lawsuit filed by the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) said that federal law was violated when a caregiver was terminated based on disability.
According to court documents, the caregiver passed a physical exam and performed required duties for the first few weeks without incident. Eventually, the Charter Senior Living director learned that the caregiver had nerve damage in one hand. At this point a new physical examination was requested and conducted. The second exam found that the caretaker met the physical requirements of the job — but still failed to pass the individual because of nerve damage. The facility fired the caretaker.
A complaint was filed with the EEOC, which sued the facility.
EEOC Trial Attorney Nedra Campbell said, “An employer should never rely on stereotypes about a medical condition when making employment decisions. Charter Senior Living should be commended for agreeing to a consent decree and committing to ensure employees are treated in accordance with the ADA.”
The consent decree only resulted after the settlement occurred, though. Charter Senior Living was forced to pay $31,750 in addition to other relief to settle the lawsuit.
Cases like these are common, but not every disabled individual knows that they have the option to file a claim with a third party like the EEOC. And when they know they can’t afford a lawyer, they’re less likely to go to one for a consult — even though a consult would reveal other options that are available. Pro bono work could solve this problem, but not enough lawyers are opting to perform these activities. That needs to change.